Motorola-powered Mac from 1989 used to write smartphone apps

Mac SE/30's nine-inch screen is ideal for font-wrangling, says dev, 16Mhz 68030 not so much


Our ongoing look at very, very old computers still in production has turned up another ancient artefact in the form of a 1989-vintage Mac that's still being used, for the very modern task of developing smartphone apps.

Reader “Pascal” says he does most of his work coding apps for Macs, iOS and Windows on a 2012 Mac Pro. Part of that work involves using custom typefaces, for which he relies on a program called Fontographer that he acquired in 1996. He's seen no reason to re-acquire or upgrade it since, because he feels the vendor hasn't added any new features he needs.

“The problem is that Fontographer is a bit crashy in emulation,” Pascal tells us. “And besides, I quite like the feel of the Mac that I ran it on originally.”

So he's still running it on a 1989 vintage Mac SE/30 that chugs along at 16MHz thanks to its Motorola 68030 CPU.

Pascal's upgraded the machine with a 1GB hard disk, up from its original 40MB disk, and also found 64MB of RAM because the 4MB it shipped with was pretty lean. He's also added ethernet so he can FTP files between the old Mac and his current computer. The Mac/SE retained the original Mac's all-in-one design, complete with tiny nine-inch screen. Pascal's cool with that.

“That 9” black and white screen is part of the pleasure of using it,” he wrote. “When designing typefaces, colour isn’t needed - and the SE/30 has a very crisp and stable screen. Besides, only 9” of space ensures that I stay focussed - there isn’t enough room to run more than one application at once (the hardware is willing, the screen isn’t!).”

Macintosh SE/30

The Mac SE/30 in all its squat glory

He also rates the machine's keyboard, the famed Apple Saratoga extended keyboard, “still the most comfortable that I’ve ever used to the extent that I also prefer the SE/30 if I’ve got large amounts of text to edit (using BBEdit).”

Pascal's over the SE/30's single button mouse, which he rates as “horrible” and asks readers who might have a multi button Kensington ADB if they'd get in touch.

“I like to think that my SE/30 is the oldest computer still in use to help write apps for modern platforms” Pascal's mail concluded.

Is he right? Do you have the mouse he wants?

Feel free to get in touch to donate mice or tell us of older PCs still in production. ®


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